Gifts for Gardeners and Native Plant Lovers


A leafy trail . . .

A leafy trail . . .

Just in time! Ideas for the most desperate among us, the ones who haven’t yet crossed even the first gift off our list. You know who you are. On Black Friday you were either out transplanting just one more shrub, or you were off wandering on some leafy trail noticing which trees had already set buds for spring.  You had promised yourself that this year your beds – the outside ones, of course – were going into winter with a cover of shredded leaves, so that was Saturday. Sunday you probably had to drive somebody somewhere, and, more importantly, make sure all the garden tools and pots were actually out of the garden and stored for winter. And then there were those bulbs, too, you couldn’t let them wait a moment longer …

So here you are. But wait a minute – this is a list of things gardeners would like to have, not things gardeners give other people. Exactly. Print it out, and give it to your friends and relatives who had their own passions to pursue over the weekend. (Public Service Announcement:  There ARE other pursuits besides gardening.) Some of them haven’t started yet either, and think of all the time you can save them with this list!  Without further preamble:

Cape Cod Weeder

Cape Cod Weeder

Tools. Here’s a biggie. Red Pig Tools.  Forgers and toolmakers, they make custom-designed things like trellises, and they can alter tools to fit your specifics. They offer an amazing array of gardening tools, and all of them are well- built: sturdy to use and made to last. If you need a trowel, get one here – in  a selection of sizes. For the Weed Warriors, cunning choices of sharp devices, both large and small. My personal all-time favorite is the Cape  Cod weeder, and you can choose one for a right-hander or a leftie.  This is just the most handy tool you can have in garden, and I am always finding new ways to use it. Try it, you’ll like it.

Gloves. A gardener always needs another pair of gloves. I have just ordered a pair of these Gold Leaf Soft Gloves. One of my problems with gloves is that I am always taking them off because I need sensory information from my fingers.  These are supposed to be super tough but allow a bit of ‘feel. Top-rated by Consumer Reports.

Pruners. Another item gardeners cannot have too many of. Because they get lost, get loaned, get left somewhere else, get dull. Et cetera. Fiskars is a company that makes good quality pruners, and you can make choices for large and small hands, ratcheted power aid, girly pink colors and more. Fiskars really stands behind their products, too, if something breaks or malfunctions, they replace, no questions asked. Fiskars Pruners.

Happy gardeners have good tools!

Happy gardeners have good tools!

Journal. Does your plant lover need a journal to record experiences, in either a scientific or an artistic light? Here is a nifty journal that has pages for notes at the beginning of each month, a spread for each week, and a square for each day. It gives enough space for records, sketches, ideas, and every full and new moon is noted. Wire bound and easy to take to the garden. Daily Musings Journal

Gift Membership in the Virginia Native Plant Society; choose a chapter or become a member at large. Give a membership to a friend and invite them to the next chapter meeting.  We welcome new members to the VNPS family. Opportunities to learn, to grow, to give, and to help

protect and preserve the native plants of Virginia and their habitats, in order to sustain for generations to come the integrity of the Commonwealth’s rich natural heritage of ecosystems and biodiversity”  Join online, you’ll see gift memberships as an option.

Books, of course!  This list is not comprehensive. It’s a hit list of books that are either new this year, or are old tried and true foundation pieces that a gardener or a native plant lover would love to have in their own library. Books selling on their own sites have links, the others are all available from the usual sources. 

It’s a long stroll scroll till the end, so I am going to put just three suggestions for kid’s books that touch on themes from nature first. And the very first one, illustrated by VNPS member and past president, Nicky Staunton, is so hot off the presses it’s scorching!

Children’s Books
Isabella’s Peppermint Flowers, by Susan Leopold; Website
The Ox-Cart Man, by Donal Hall, an golden oldie  by contrast, and a beautiful one that chronicles  seasons and their gifts
Forest, What Would You Like? by Irene O’Garden, new in 2013, you won’t see it in the displays at B&N, but it’s a neat perspective, and kids in the 4 to 6 range will enjoy the illustrations of a diversity of children interacting in the forest.

Here’s a site I order lots of children’s books from, soft cover or hardback, allows you to see covers and check age appropriate span, with a wide variety of animal and nature themes – Arbordale Publishing. Website:

For Gardening History Lovers
Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation, by Andrea Wulf

For Pollinator Boosters
Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting America’s Bees and Butterflies, by Xerces Society.
Pollinators of Native Plants: Observe and Identify pollinators and beneficial insects with native plants, by Heather Holm, new in 2014. Website:

For Sustainability and Wildlife
Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, by Doug Tallamy, a Must Have
The Living Landscape: Designing for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden, by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, new in 2014, and beautifully photographed
Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes
by Thomas Rainer

For Art Lovers
American Botanical Paintings: Native Plants of the Mid Atlantic, by Botanical Artists for Education and the Environment, edited by Bonnie Driggers. New in 2014 and it goes without saying – beautifully painted
Seeing Trees: Discover the ordinary secrets of everyday tress, by Nancy Ross Hugo, stunning photography, delightful and informative text, increase ID skills the fun way! They have it at Timber Press , I like to support them because they support green publishing

For Plant ID
Newcombe’s Wildflower Guide, by Lawrence Newcombe, a classic book that uses keys for plant ID
A Field Guide to Wildflowers in Northeastern and North Central North America, by Roger Tory Peterson
Wildflowers & Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains & Piedmont, by Timothy P. Spira,
~ Flora of Virginia, see below~

For Horticulture
Taming Wildflowers, by Miriam Goldberger, an inspiring resource not only for growing native flowers, but also for using them in arrangements, new in 2014
Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines, a Guide to using, growing, and propagating North American Woody Plants, by William Cullina, another classic of its kind by an undisputed authority on the subject
Native Plants of the Southeast: A comprehensive Guide to the best 460 species for the Garden, by Larry Mellichamp, new in 2014 and not only beautiful but fun to read

For Forest and Ecosytem Lovers
The Forest Unseen: A year’s watch in nature, by David Haskell
The Eastern Forest: A field guide to birds, mammals, trees, flowers, by Kricher&Morrison

For Classic Environmentalists, or for those who might need nudging
A Sand County Almanac
, by Carl Sandburg

 Very Virginia
Wildflowers and Grasses of Virginia’s Coastal Plain, by  Helen Hamilton &Gustavus Hall, new in 2014
And! The Crown Jewel, new in 2012 ~
The Flora of Virginia, by  Alan S. Weakley, J. Christopher Ludwig, and John F. Townsend

“Flora of Virginia describes approximately 3,200 taxa in 200 families and features 1,400 captioned, scaled, and botanically accurate illustrations. Introductory material includes essays on the natural history and vegetation of Virginia and a historical account of botanical exploration in the state, as well as a key to the vascular plant families represented in the Flora. A glossary, bibliography, and comprehensive index are also provided.”

Want to give a gift that is ‘without money and without price?” You can. Make a card with a fill-in-the-blank coupon for a hike in the mountains or a stroll in a park.  Make time to be with someone and share an adventure together.  Virginia has wonderful state parks! Website:

sue dingwell

Leave a Comment